Long Term Review: Ibis Ripley V4 – Best in Class 2020

Ripley V4 Black Mountain Trail

By now you’ve heard how great the latest generation Ibis Ripley V4 is. There are mountains of positive reviews but after 8 months of comparisons to its competitors, I still believe the Ripley is being sold short. I’m here to tell you a little different story of why I feel that the Ripley is the best in its class for 2020.

What is Best in Class?

The class being Trail Bike is what I would define as 115mm to 130mm of rear travel and 120-140mm front suspension. The trail bike is essentially the sweet spot that connects XC and enduro. Less travel and its XC and with more travel you have enduro. I consider the actual best in class a bike that focuses on being well rounded and without major faults.  It’s the benchmark against which others are compared.

Whatever you want to call this class/category, it’s definitely on fire right now. There seems to be a trail bike for everyone from xc racer to enduro bro. Santa Cruz even describes the Tallboy as the downhillers XC bike.  I call this category the most fun on the widest range of trails! I enjoy the bike as much on flat and fast and twisty non-technical trails as I do on the steep rough terrain.
 
Trail bikes are generally more agile, lighter and offer better-pedaling characteristics than longer travel bikes. The lines between trail and enduro bikes are starting to blur though. Many companies are starting to build their trail bikes with the same parts and geometry as their enduro bikes and just reducing travel. No doubt these bikes are super fun to blast down the trail on, but not as well rounded.  Then you have to start thinking – if my trail bike weighs as much as or more than an enduro bike, why shouldn’t I just go full enduro?!
In my opinion the Ibis Ripley V4 is the most well rounded trail bike. It’s superb all-around suspension performance, geometry and agility beg you to hop, skip and throw the bike around with very little effort.
Palo Duro Canyon Ripley

Ibis Ripley V4 | Price as tested $6099 | Shimano XT8100 – Fox Factory 34 – Ibis 935 wheels/Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.6 | Weight: 27.8 lbs (26.9lbs with Enve M630 wheels) w/o pedals | Size – Medium


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  • Excellent geometry that merges aggressive trail bike and agile Ripley heritage
  • Plenty of room for 2.6″ tires
  • Light!! 5.6 lb medium frame (with shock) is one of the lightest trail bikes on the market
  • Large water bottle compatible
  • Sleeved internal cables make installing new cables easy and quiet
  • Short seat tube can accommodate long droppers even for shorter-legged folks

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  • The water bottle cage sits very low in the frame.  This keeps the center of gravity low but small bottles can be a stretch to reach.

The Ripley is now into its 4th generation. Today’s V4 is much more capable than the V3 in almost every way.  It’s stiffer, more compliant and more stable on technical terrain. The frame remains one of the lightest options in the trail category at 5.6lbs (with shock). Most other trail bike frames are now approaching or over 7 pounds!  My factory-build with XT 8100 12 speed group came in at 27.8 pounds (without pedals) with wide Ibis 935 wheelset and 2.6-inch tires.

Ibis Ripley linkage rock guard
Ibis added some nice protection from rocks. A rubber flap and protective tape now come preinstalled on the seatube.

Climbing

The Ripley is the class leader when it comes to pedaling and climbing efficiency. It’s DW link suspension refuses to squat when the trail turns upwards. Even on the longest climbs I never think that I need a more solid pedaling platform. While other bikes trade small bump sensitivity for a better pedaling platform, that is not the case with the Ripley. It remains active and plush even on the small bumps giving it great traction AND efficiency.

Descending

You might think with a bike climbing so well that this would be where the Ripley might lose some ground. Nope, it’s not the case. This is an area where I feel many other reviewers haven’t been accurate in their comparisons of other trail bikes. I mean sure there are other’s that might descend better that come spec’d with a 140mm Pike or 36 and roll on Minion DHF/DHR’s. The Ripley may be less of a ground-hugging plow bike and honestly, that’s one of the reasons I love the way the bike descends.  Its springy agility really allows you to place the bike right where you want it. The bike is very easy to unweight allowing you to roll over bigger lines than you think a 120mm bike is capable of. Along with reasonably long wheelbase and slack 66.5-degree headtube, a 44mm reduced offset fork helps retain the Ripley’s well-known agility.

Ripley Outer Limits
The outer limits of the Ripley aren’t easily found unless you’re on the roughest terrain.

Suspension action in the rear feels nice throughout its range.  My bike did come with the new “traction tune” Fox DPS shock. Read more about it here: Traction Tune Explained  . I’m not sure how much of a difference I felt with the “traction tune” but the rear suspension action feels great throughout its range from small to large hits. I never feel harsh bottom outs from the big hits even though I frequently see the shock sag-o-meter at its max.

Ibis Ripley V4 VS Transition Smuggler, Santa Cruz Tallboy, Norco Optic and Pivot Trail 429

Let’s start by taking a closer look at some competitor’s geometry. Currently, I feel that these 5 bikes are the IT bikes in the trail category and the ones I have the most experience with.

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Ibis Ripley Pivot Trail 429 Norco Optic Santa Cruz Tallboy Trans. Smuggler
Reach S/M/L (mm) 425/450/475 408/439/459 420/450/480 425/450/470 425/450/475
HT Angle (deg) 66.5 (130mm fork) 67.3 (130mm fork) 65 (140mm fork) 65.7 (130mm fork) 66 (140mm fork)
ST Angle (deg) 76 74.6 76 76.7/76.6/76.4 77/76.3/75.8
WB S/M/L (mm) 1147/1178/1207 1130/1163/1186 1157/1196/1235 1158 /1187/1211 1159/1184/1213
Chainstay (mm) 432 429 425/430/435 430 430

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Compared to the Pivot Trail 429

The Pivot Trail 429 is most like the Ripley for sure. With the same DW suspension the Ripley and 429 climb and pedal very similarly. They are probably the two best in this category.  The Ripley frame is around 3/4 of a pound lighter and the geometry favors more DH stability over quick steering with more modern geometry. If you mostly ride in less vertically challenged and tight and twisty terrain the 429 is excellent. I do like the color options on the 429 if that matters to you?

Compared to the 2020 Norco Optic and the Transition Smuggler

Both the Optic and Smuggler have similar geometry and travel but their builds lean much more towards the downhills with 10mm more travel up front and meatier tires.  No question, the Optic and Smuggler can be pushed a little more on the downhills but they are both 3+ lbs heavier at similar price points. Throw some DHR’s on the Ripley and add 10mm of travel up front and I believe it feels as capable on the descents and still a couple of pounds lighter.

The Optic is definitely a great bike if you aren’t too concerned about the extra weight.  The horst-link suspension gives amazing traction both up and down. When the terrain gets steep, fast and chunky the Optic is definitely great. I really love the Smuggler too but give the nod slightly to the Optic due to a little more modern geometry.

Compared to the Santa Cruz Tallboy

Like the Optic and Smuggler, the Tallboy has very similar geometry but a bit heavier frame weight.  I have spent very little time on the latest Tallboy, but my initial impressions are that it’s more geared towards a bigger more aggressive rider that isn’t too concerned about the added weight.   The Tallboy’s VPP suspension does not feel as efficient nor has quite the small bump sensitivity of the Ripley’s DW Link.


What separates the Ripley from the competition?

The Ibis Ripley V4 is very well rounded with superb suspension’s performance, geometry and overall weight.  Its agility is truly what sets it apart from the rest though.  This helps the bike’s already great climbing performance as well as its ability to unweight, hop and skip over rough sections of trail.

I mean if a trail bike has the same tires, wheels, shock and fork as an enduro bike but with less travel, why not just go full enduro? Personally, I’d choose the Ibis Ripmo over most of Ripley’s heavier “almost enduro” competitors due to the same reasons I prefer the Ripley. The Ripmo climbs super well and is lighter than the Ripley’s competitors despite having 20mm more travel.

Other bikes in this category that don’t climb as well can be tweaked so they pedal better, but then they lose descending ability. The Ripley is much more than just a great pedaling bike and can be morphed to cater for a wide range of riders’ preferences. Just increase the travel to 140, maybe add a volume reducer to the rear shock and throw some meatier tires on. I’ll choose the lighter weight and better pedaling any day!  In my opinion, the Ibis Ripley V4 is the best in class 2020 trail bike.

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This Post Has 33 Comments

  1. Brian

    Glad to have read this. I literally just ordered one today. SLX build, S28 Carbon Wheels. Really expecting a lot from an XC level. Not even remotely concerned with the descents.

    1. Chad Davis

      Heck yeah Brian! You’ll love the bike and choose an excellent build. We’ve been loving the new Shimano 12spd! The Ripley can definitely be a great race bike, especially for the longer and multi-day events! I’ll be using mine for quite a few endurance events later this summer.

  2. Shane

    Any chance to compare this to the Spot Ryve 115?

    1. Chad Davis

      Hey Shane! You’re still in the H-burg area right? We just helped a friend with a contest that awarded SVBC with some $.
      I haven’t had the opportunity to ride the Ryve yet but it looks very interesting especially if you’re looking for a quick and agile bike for less fast and steep terrain. If you’re still in the burg, I know you don’t have a lot of that :). The frame weights of the two bikes seem to be basically the same IF Spot states their frame weights accurately? Other that unfortunately, I don’t have much for ya – I did ride the Mayhem and remember not liking it much back in 2016 when it was first coming out.

  3. Ed Fryatt

    Just finally got mine all built up this week. Went with the Pike Ultimate fork, SRAM AXS drivetrain, We the One wheelset with Onyx hubs. Love, Love, Love this bike. Takes the bigger hits much better than my Specialized Epic, obviously. And still is light enough to not kill you when climbing. . Live in Las Vegas, but looking forward to getting this bike out to a bunch of different terrains out here on the west coast.

    1. Chad Davis

      Nice build Ed – that new Pike Ultimate is so nice! We Are One – heck yeah! I have one of their first sets from a few years ago. Enjoy the Ripley.

  4. Sophie B.

    So, I demoed one in Santa Cruz. While I was able to pr all sorts of dh, I thought it climbed just ok and was sluggish on the flats and flatish. I’m blaming the 2.6 tires for this…any thoughts? I had the fork and shock adjusted but not the rebound. It also creaked a lot.

    1. Chad Davis

      Hi Sophie – it could have been the 2.6’s depending on what you’re used to rolling on? They aren’t the lightest, fastest rolling tires for sure. If your demo had the S35 alloy wheels, they are a little on the heavier side too due to their width. For a 5″ travel trail bike, the Ripley is pretty much as good as it gets pedaling wise. Tires and wheels can make a big difference though if you want a faster-rolling machine. Swapping out that front tire to match the rear Nobby Nic might be the difference you need? ??.

  5. Jay

    Ibis has a long history of creaks. The Ripley does pedal well.

    1. Chad Davis

      For sure all bikes will creak if somethings too loose, ungreased or has a contaminated moving surface. Maybe I’m lucky (doubt it) but I haven’t found Ibis is more prone to creaks than any other brands.

  6. John

    Where can in buy a ripley in the netherlands?

  7. Bill Gray

    Great review! I have been an Ibis owner for over 25 years now and have been looking at the Ripley to replace my Ibis Ti Mojo I have been riding for the last 12. Just wondering what your thoughts are on the Ripley V4 compared to the new Yeti SB115? On paper the measurements between the two are almost identical.

    1. Chad Davis

      Ti Mojo, NICE!! The Yeti SB115 on paper looks as though it might be a good bike for flatter terrain with a steeper HT, slacker ST, shorter reach and wheelbase. The Ripley should be more stable on the rougher and steeper terrain with more modern geometry and 10mm more travel up front. I think the Ripley is likely a more capable bike in the mountains – both going up and down. Personally I would look at the new Transition Spur before the new Yeti.

  8. Steven

    nice review. What size Ripley did you try and how did you find the sizing of the bike? A lot of people seem to size up due to the steep seat angle even though the reach is pretty generous in every size..

    1. Chad Davis

      Hi Steven, I’m 5’7 and am on a medium but I do have a shorter torso and longer legs (32″ inseam). I find Ibis’s size chart pretty accurate unless you are at the extreme ends of a disproportionate body type. Ibis’s sizing seems fairly standard compared to most other brands to me and I feel super comfy with the medium.

  9. Ben Sehy

    Hey Chad,

    Are you able to compare the Ripley to some of the new Short travel light weight trail bikes like the Revel Ranger, Transition Spur and the Yeti 115?

    1. Chad Davis

      Hey Ben! I’m working on that right now and should have some thoughts together in the next couple days. The short answer is the Spur would be the bike I’d look at and I think we’ll compare most favorably to the Ripley. What kind of riding are you into/where do your live?

  10. John

    Hi Chad,

    I’m in Charlotte NC and currently looking to replace my 2015 Specialized Camber Evo, I’m keeping a fully rigid Air 9 set up single speed in my fleet. I also saw your writeup an “All Country” and from what I’m reading, you and I have a similar sweet spot in what we’re looking for in a bike. I’ve been riding for 20+ years and am plenty comfortable picking lines through Pisgah on a 120 bike and generally a more XC oriented setup is going to suit my interests and locale – solid pedaling manners and capable climbing are top priorities. I hopped on a Cannondale Scalpel SE and Tallboy yesterday, the Scalpel felt great and is my current lean, within a couple pedal cranks on the street by my LBS I knew the Tallboy wasn’t for me. But I do enjoy a good descent, will gladly grab some air here and there and am working on my handling around the tabletops (I also have a DJ that I’m thus far only barely qualified to operate). I’m pretty excited that both The Riveter and Kanuga just opened up as I’d like to work on building out that end of my skillset. I’m also not opposed to rental options for a day at Kanuga if a Ripley/Scalpel SE or similar “All Country” rig is a bit under classed or over its skis on that sort of terrain.

    To the point, have you had an opportunity to take a look at the Scalpel SE (i’m looking at the “1” build, full XT: https://www.cannondale.com/en-us/bikes/mountain/trail-bikes/scalpel-se/scalpel-carbon-se-1 )? I hadn’t really considered an Ibis but have been seeing some rather excellent reviews on the Ripley and the XT build is priced within striking distance of the Scalpel SE 1. Interested in your thoughts.

    Thanks – John

    1. Chad Davis

      John you’re definitely in luck with so many cool new bikes out there! The Scalpel is one I don’t have any personal experience with yet but the bike looks really good on paper. Compared to other 120mm bikes it’s definitely more XC with a very short wheelbase and a long seattube – just make sure you can run the length dropper you want.

      I rode Kanuga last week on the Norco Revolver FS that’s almost identical to the Scalpel in geometry and it was fine for the most part on the more mellow greens and blues but I’d want a little more bike if that was my jam and I wanted to hit the black lines there.

      Assuming that most of your riding will be closer to Charlotte and you’re not here in Pisgah every weekend the Scalpel would probably work well. IF you were serious about regularly hitting more of the Black/Buckwheat/Avery/ Bennett type Pisgah trails a bike like the Tallboy or Ripley will definitely give more confidence. The difference between the Revolver and Ripley is pretty noticeable in Pisgah. The more aggressive geometry, Fox 34 and 10mm more travel really help.

    2. Matt

      Chad. I am 200lb rider some other reviews available and forums suggest Ripmo may be better suited. However I do not ride ride much knar at all mostly smaller rocks, ledges, flower trails with rollier type climbs. Although many have said the Ripmo claims very well, it seems the Ripley has it outgunned by a fair margin on climbs. I could send the shock/ fork to Avalanche for better support if going with Ripley. I have bottomed my 2014 fuel with similar travel numbers. However I realize the Ibis will be far superior to my current ride. Thoughts?

      1. Chad Davis

        It sounds like you would really enjoy the Ripley more to me. The Ripmo does climb really well for a longer travel bike, but it sounds like it’s overkill for where you ride. The extra travel won’t do anything extra for your weight. I think you would be happy with the Ripley and might not even need to do much to the fork/shock other than add some air volume reducers. I’ve been super happy with the Fox34/DPS performance. I’ve owned both and the ONLY time I wouldn’t mind having the Ripmo is when the trails get REALLY rough and stay like that for extended stretches.

  11. George Mankos

    Hi Chad,

    I throughly enjoyed your review of the V4 Ripley, lots of great insights. I have the V2 OG boost Ripley that I plan to replace this fall and am wondering how the v4 compares on tight rocky and rooted switchbacks. I ride some of the trails in your area including Warrior, Lake James, DuPont, Bent Creek, Mills River and some Pisgah. Would the Ripley benefit from a 140mm fork on the descents? Or would the added 10mm affect climbing ability too much?

    Also, I am leaning towards the XT build which comes with the stock Ibis S35 wheel set that I would upgrade at a later date. Does the internal rim width of 35mm pose a problem with 2.3-2.4 mm wide tires being too squared off. I tend to look for tires in this range as they seem to provide the best weight (800 gram ballpark), grip and durability compromise. Will the stock wheels mess with cornering ability?

    Thanks, George

    1. Chad Davis

      Hi George and thank you for the positive feedback!!

      I do feel that the V2 is a little easier to handle in the tight terrain like switchbacks but once you adapt to the geometry of the V4 the difference is very minimal. I love tight twisty terrain and I don’t think the V4 holds me back or is any less fun.

      I definitely debate hard on whether or not to bump the 34 up to 140mm. I could use the extra travel here on my home terrain on the more burly trails like Bennett, Pilot Rock and Black but I really like how the bike rides with the stock 130mm. I even have a 140mm airshaft ready to throw in, but really hesitant since I enjoy riding other places that the extra travel isn’t needed. I likely will bump it up to 140 eventually? ;)

      Yeah, the S35 is probably a bit too wide for most 2.3/2.4 depending on the profile of the tire. You should be able to opt for the S33 wheelset if you’re purchasing the Ripley new though. At only 2mm narrower its not that much of a difference but if you want to run narrower tires it will play better and as you say not square off the profile as much. They’re also about 1/4 lb lighter!

  12. Chuck

    Always late to the party! Solid review, well done Chad and thank you! Between sizes on the Ibis sizing chart, at 5.10, 31″ inseam I was thinking large. What do you think?

    1. Chad Davis

      Hi Chuck, thanks for the feedback! I would think for sure you would be happiest on a large at your height/inseam. Enjoy!

  13. Ryan

    Transition Spur vs Ripley?

    1. Chad Davis

      I haven’t had the opportunity to throw a leg over the Spur yet but I bet these two bikes ride very similarly until the terrain gets tighter. The Ripley’s slightly shorter wheelbase and half a degree steeper headtube angle should make it a little more agile…and riding the Spur with 130mm up front like the Ripley, that change will be magnified. If you don’t often ride tight terrain, probably not a big deal. Without any first-hand experience with the Spur if I had to choose one of these bikes it would still be the Ripley.

      1. Spence

        I’m looking for a full suspension 29er that can crush the technical climbs. Would you recommend Ripley for that?

        1. Chad Davis

          YES, the Ripley can crush the technical climbs due to its efficiency and it being a pound lighter than most of its competitors with the same build. For the really techy climbs (the ones 90% walk), I’ve also been pretty surprised by the Ripmo and Norco Optic/Sight. The Ripmo’s added travel allows you to slam into bigger rocks/roots while maintaining momentum and traction. Norco’s Optic/Sight four-bar rear end just has some crazy impressive traction.

  14. Jeffrey Kauffman

    I’m thinking of buying a ripley, but I do a lot of slower climbing with tighter turns. Is the bike too slack for this type of trail?

    1. Chad Davis

      Jeffery, I don’t think the Ripley is too slack for slow, tight, or steep climbing at all. I will say that I normally ride bikes at least as slack and often slacker than the Ripley. So when I jump on the Ripley I feel like it’s super easy to put the front wheel or back wheel wherever needed to get up super tricky terrain. This is an area I actually think the Ripley excels compared to the competition. The slightly shorter wheelbase combined with the DW links efficiency and minimal sag make it a great technical climber.

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